In Search of a Home: The Germans from Russia.

Book review by Marion Mertz

Walth, Richard H. In Search of a Home: The Germans from Russia. Dülmen, Germany: Laumann Verlag, 1990.

“...Time and you walk together step by step..." (Bärbel Will-Trebeg)

In his book, In Search of a Home: The Germans from Russia, Richard H. Walth gives to the young descendants of Germans from Russia the opportunity to walk together, step by step, into time past, to examine their roots. To accommodate these descendants in both Europe and America, the book has German and English translations.

The author sets the scene by giving a brief survey of the history of the Germans in
Russia. Walth presents this history by tracing the events of one village, Neu-Glückstal, from its founding in 1860 to the present time. The author traces these changes by describing the plan of the farmsteads, the structure of the homes, the village life, which centered on the school and church, the quality of the soil, and the importance of their religious unity.

Maps, documents, and photographs acquaint the reader with typical inhabitants, such as the Merz, the Kulm, the Permann, and the Götz families. He describes the Merz family as a representative rural household. In characterizing the Germans from Russia in America, he presents the Kulm and the Permann families as examples.

A list of the inhabitants of Neu-Glückstal gives family and Christian names, the year and place of their birth, their fate, and their whereabouts after 1944. A village plan of Neu- Glückstal in 1930 shows the farmsteads by family name.

Walth speaks of the teachers' training college, where only sons and daughters of
Germans from Russia were educated as teachers for their own compatriots. This section is written in German only.

A first-hand account by a former pupil of the Teachers' Training College in Selz near Odessa in the Black Sea region gives a poignant report of the tribulations the inhabitants suffered during the resettlement from March 17, 1944, through July 15, 1987.

Walth was born in the German colony of Neu-Glückstalm, near Odessa, in 1924. He attended the Teachers' Training College in Selz/Odessa, and after the war he studied in Bonn. He was first a teacher and then headmaster of an elementary school. He authored the book, Wandererschicksale und Wanderungsmotive. He knows the Germans from Russia and their course of life from his own experience. His work as a teacher in Germany taught him to explain things, not only clearly, but also objectively.
An authoritative bibliography lists the major reference books, which serve as a source for further research. The index is comprehensive and detailed.

The book is a well-bound, hardcover edition, using very readable type, with a comfortable amount of white space setting off the divisions. It reads well and serves as a good reference for those who seek the history of their Germans from Russia ancestry.

Permission to use any images from the GRHC website may be requested by contacting Michael M. Miller